The American Board of Phlebology: Announcing a Multispecialty Consensus Core Content Initiative in Phlebology

Significant innovations and major new concepts in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disorders have come from physicians and surgeons with a variety of specialty backgrounds. This contributes to the significant and expanding interest in phlebology. However, medical training in venous disease is very diverse and often inadequate across specialty and subspecialty programs.

In a major effort involving representatives from societies around the country and around the world, the American Board of Phlebology (ABPh) convened a Curriculum Task Force earlier this year with the charge of standardizing training in phlebology. The Task Force is comprised of 24 leaders in venous disease from phlebology, vascular surgery, interventional radiology, vascular medicine and dermatology. The charge was to use a collaborative approach to develop a consensus comprehensive curriculum in phlebology. Ultimately, ABPh seeks to improve patient outcomes on a national and international scale. But to achieve this, formal training standards in venous disease must be established.

Core Content for Phlebology

As the first step towards achieving these goals, a draft of the "Core Content for Phlebology" was written by the multispecialty-based Curriculum Task Force, outlining the areas of knowledge and competency considered essential for its practice. The Core Content document will provide the framework for establishing training requirements. Importantly, it forms the basis for professional discussion of these standards and their impact on specialty and subspecialty training. Seventy (70) “Advisors”, selected from key leaders in venous disease across relevant specialties, were recently invited to review and critique the core content draft. The ABPh Task Force will consider their comments to revise and improve the document.

Through this core content document, the ABPh is seeking to:

  • Outline the knowledge necessary to identify and manage venous, arteriovenous, and venolymphatic conditions and their sequelae
  • Guide development of standards for consistency and replicability in training across the specialties that treat venous disease patients
  • Provide a benchmark against which to assess the knowledge of practitioners of venous medicine and surgery

A public comments phase will commence about December 2011. All individual stakeholders are invited to review and comment on the draft. More information will be available on our website soon.

Medical Society Cross Purposes

Certifying boards share a common mission and purpose. They promote excellence in the practice of a given medical discipline to better serve both patient and public interests. The mission of the ABPh is to advance the care of patients with venous disorders by improving the quality of medical practitioners treating them. The certification process requires rigorous prerequisites, a psychometrically validated exam to document that a physician has mastery of the basic knowledge and skills that define the area, a commitment to lifelong learning and assessment, and improvement of educational standards.

Commitment to lifelong learning and assessment is the goal of maintenance of certification (MOC) programs. The guiding principle MOC is to continually foster excellence in patient care. Since its inception, the ABPh has recognized the importance of MOC, and has been committed to development of this program. The ABPh PHLEB-MOC program will begin in 2012. Information is available on the ABPh website.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) states, “The development of new medical specialties has been an essential feature of the growth of modern scientific medicine.” While a core of basic knowledge is central to each medical specialty, this core changes with new technology and time. Subspecialties expand the medical focus of different areas within the core specialty.

This fact has led to the development of over 150 subspecialty certificates being granted by ABMS Member Boards.

In 2012, ABPh continues to do what all medical boards do:

  • Establish prerequisites,
  • Administer exams,
  • Determine status for its diplomates, and
  • Promote a lifelong commitment to professional learning.

An Ever-Growing Growing Society

As of November 2011, there are 520 diplomates of the ABPh. These individuals come from a variety of specialty backgrounds including vascular surgery, general surgery, vascular medicine, interventional radiology, emergency medicine, dermatology, gynecology, anesthesiology, internal medicine and family practice. As diverse as their professional roots are, all have made a formal commitment to excellence in the treatment of venous disease patients.

We believe development of the Core Content in Phlebology will pave the way to improve educational standards and standardize comprehensive training in venous disease. Furthermore, the ABPh hopes and expects this document and the MOC program will improve and promote professional standards essential to the public interest.